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Neural stem cells/neural progenitors (NSCs/NPs) are cells that give rise to the main cell types of the nervous system: oligodendrocytes, neurons, and astrocytes. Studying NSCs/NPs with time-lapse microscopy is critical to the understanding of the biology of these cells. However, NSCs/NPs are very sensitive to phototoxic damage, and therefore, fluorescent dyes cannot be used to follow these cells. Also, since in most of NSC/NP-related experiments, a large number of cells neesd to be monitored. Consequently, the acquisition of a huge amount of images is required. An additional difficulty is related to our original suspension living, tracking objective, behavior much closer to the natural, in vivo, way of development of the cells. Indeed, unlike adherent cells, suspension cells float freely in a liquid solution, thus, making their dynamics very different from that of adherent cells. As a result, existing visual tracking algorithms that have primarily been developed to track adherent cells are no longer adequate to tackle living cells in suspension. This paper presents a novel automated 3-D visual tracking of suspension living cells for time-lapse image acquisition using phase-contrast microscopy. This new tracking method can potentially strongly impact on current 3-D video microscopy methods, paving the way for innovative analysis of NSCs/NPs and as a result, on the study of neurodegenerative diseases.


Chao-Hui Huang, Shvetha Sankaran, Daniel Racoceanu, Srivats Hariharan, Sohail Ahmed. Online 3-D tracking of suspension living cells imaged with phase-contrast microscopy. IEEE transactions on bio-medical engineering. 2012 Jul;59(7):1924-33

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PMID: 22510943

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